Saturday, January 24, 2009

Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)

Reviewed by Jeremy Melton

There is scholarly debate as to whether or not this is the greatest “part 2” of all time. With competition from the Wrong Turn franchise and Sleepaway Camp films, it is certainly a tough call. As far as “Part 2”s are concerned, I can comfortably say it is in the top 5 of ALL TIME.

Let’s start with the obvious. The original movie is titled The Blair Witch Project. Rather than waste our time with excessive language, the makers just shortened it to “Blair Witch”. Oh, then they added “Book of Shadows” before putting a much needed “2” so we would not accidentally think this is the same movie as the first (even with the title change). What I like about this is that alphabetically the 2004 dramedy Book of Love will now forever sit snuggled between the Blair flicks in most movie review books and databases.

Next, all of the characters in this movie share the same first name as the actors that play them. Are they playing themselves, you ask? No. The characters all have different last names. In my opinion this is the sort of laziness that guarantees a great movie experience.

I am not going to waste a lot of time telling you about the plot. It has something to do watching videos in reverse and a witch. Instead I would like to concentrate on the specific plot point that is most distressing to our characters: After a night of drinking and smoking pot, they wake up the next morning and can’t remember anything from the night before.

I am not kidding, they are perplexed by this and somehow end up blaming each other and Japanese tourists for their mysterious blackouts.

Sometimes a movie can overcome a weak storyline with strong characters. Here, there is virtually no story and, as mentioned earlier, the writers of this movie couldn’t even be bothered to create first names for their main characters. They are:

Jeffrey (played by Jeffrey). He runs the “Blair Witch Experience”. This is a tour that people can sign up for in which you walk aimlessly through the woods until you find a place to drink and get high. He also has a history of being in and out of mental institutions (where they apparently pour cake batter through a tube and up the noses of their patients in order to cure them). Not really important, but it makes old Sherriff Cravens really hate him.

Kim (played by Kim). She is goth. Not the type of goth I remember seeing milling around community college campuses, but the really outgoing goth girl that exists … well this type of person does not exist anywhere outside of this movie.

Erica (Erica). She is Wiccan. Alright, you just figured it all out. She’s the Blair Witch.

Stephen (Stephen). Stephen is on the tour with his girlfriend Tristine. They are writing a book together about the Blair Witch. Writing a book is hard work and takes a certain amount of intelligence. That is why I was surprised when, after boozing it up all night, when he awoke to find pages of his book ripped to shreds and all over the ground, he panicked because half of that stuff was “original documents”. Why in the hell was he traipsing all over woods with irreplaceable documents that he needed to finish his book??? Why did those documents ever leave the house? What was he planning to do with them out there? This is never explored, but I have a possible answer:

Stephen never had anything out there he could not replace. He knew that the book he was trying to write was a total mess. I mean, come on. No one had ever even heard of the Blair Witch before 1999 and here he is in 2000 trying to publish an in-depth study of the phenomenon. As soon as he saw all of those printouts torn up all over the woods, he decided that this was his out. He would tell his publisher that Japanese tourists and a goth girl tore up all of the documents he needed to finish the book. I am certain that he thought this would buy him another month or two before he would be asked to return the advance.

Tristine (Tristine). This is my favorite character in the movie. I can think of no reason for this actress to be cast other than she looked a lot like Jennifer Aniston, who, for reasons I cannot understand, was considered “hot” in 2000. My guess is that the good people at Artisan hoped that they could show her briefly in the commercials and trick some people into thinking that Jennifer Aniston was making a cameo. Maybe that would attract some of those Scream fans that liked seeing Courtney Cox as the hard-hitting reporter Gale Weathers.

Tristan is the pregnant girlfriend of Stephen. Despite her condition, she also spends the evening drinking, smoking pot, and having sex with relative strangers. The next morning she miscarries. Obviously, everyone thinks that something supernatural caused this to happen. Thankfully, though, no one dwells on the matter too long. I mean, first things first. Who is to blame for everyone not being able to remember what exactly happened the night before?

The only other character of note is Sherriff Cravens. He is played by Lanny Flaherty. So, I guess the Sherriff’s name is Lanny Cravens. Anyway, Lanny Cravens keeps law and order in the little town of Burkittsville and really over reacts to having tourists. He walks around yelling things like “There ain’t no God Damn Blair Witch”, and freaks out about there being sightseers in the woods and around the cemetery.

Look, I used to live in Daytona Beach and dealt with Bike Week. Traffic would get totally backed up. Half of the fat-ass bikers took the mufflers off of their hogs to make them as obnoxiously loud as possible. For Christ’s sake, one local establishment used to entertain these a-holes by having hillbilly women wrestle in coleslaw.

The forty or so people quietly milling around and looking at tombstones in Burkittsville really can’t be that much of a hassle for this redneck cop. Nevertheless, Lanny is really pissed about them.

That pretty much sums up why I love this movie. Even though I am sure that my counterpart Billy would disagree with this rating, I am going to give it four and a half fingers.

Jeremy Melton


  1. I'd say Wrong Turn 2 is definitely better.

  2. I have never been able to figure out why I liked this movie. Having read your review now I have to say - I still don't know why.

    In fact all I really remember is Kim sitting on a grave and Kim giving someone the fingers while buying a bottle of booze. I thought she did both things pretty well.